Komen Central and South Jersey Coalition Contributes to the Big Bold Goal

Susan G. Komen recently announced a bold plan to reduce the nation’s current 40,000 breast cancer deaths by 50 percent within the next decade. Nationally, Komen is leveraging two of its strengths – science and community health outreach – to achieve this goal by investing $33 million in new research and $27 million in a Health Equity Initiative to reduce breast cancer deaths among African American women.

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By focusing on health equity, Komen’s plan is to eliminate socioeconomic, geographic, and cultural issues that serve as barriers to quality care for many African American women. These barriers have contributed to a breast cancer death rate for African American women that is 44 percent higher than white women. Komen’s mission is to reduce this mortality gap by 25 percent over the next five years.

This is being done as part of a broader 10-year strategy to create health equity for all women and men. It is meant to complement the work that Komen Affiliates are currently doing to remove barriers to breast cancer care for medically underserved individuals across the United States.

For many Affiliates, including Komen Central and South Jersey, this work includes raising money to support local programs that provide screening mammograms, diagnostic services and treatment assistance to underserved populations – a strategy that continues to prove to be successful. However, with this new bold goal, comes a need for Affiliates to increase their efforts.

Similar to Komen’s national strategy, Central and South Jersey has contributed to the bold goal by first identifying counties in central and south Jersey where death rates are highest – which data shows are Atlantic, Camden and Gloucester Counties – and then convening a coalition of stakeholders from each county to collectively address these poor conditions.

The coalition – a collaboration of Atlantic Medical Imaging (AMI) Foundation, AtlantiCare, Camden Coalition of HealthCare Professionals, Jewish Family Service of Atlantic and Camden Counties and Rutgers School of Nursing-Camden – held its first meeting on November 17th to establish its mission and define the means for long-term change.coalition

During the meeting, the coalition established itself as the South Jersey Breast Health Disparities Initiative with a mission to improve utilization of affordable, accessible healthcare in Atlantic, Camden and Gloucester Counties for medically underserved individuals ages 40-60. Using collective impact, the coalition will require involved organizations to coordinate their efforts and work together around this clearly defined goal. The coalition will continue to meet on a quarterly basis and invite other stakeholders to join its efforts.